OCEAN TOWNSHIP (Monmouth) — A month before her million-dollar home burned down, Jacquelin Terrulli allowed Ronald Teschner, a handyman she’s known for a while, to come live with her and her family.

Since the five-bedroom Wickapecko Drive mansion was destroyed last week, there hasn’t been a trace of the 65-year-old Terrulli except for her Jeep and family jewels that police said were found in North Jersey in possession of Teschner, an ex-con and possible heroin addict whose criminal history includes multiple arrests and convictions for robbery, assault, rape and child abuse.

Teschner, 49, has been charged with illegal possession of shotguns and theft. But he has not been charged in connection with the fire or Terrulli’s disappearance. And he isn’t talking.

But Terrulli’s family on Wednesday believe her kindheartedness and her willingness to give Teschner a helping hand may have led to her demise.

“We’re staying positive and we’re still hopeful,” her cousin Jennifer Terrulli said Wednesday, six days after the fire gutted the home and killed a parrot, two dogs and a cat that Jacquelin cared for.

The Jeep belonging to Jacquelin Terruli, 65, who has been missing since a Sept. 12, 2019, fire at her Ocean Township home. (Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office)

In addition to Jacquelin Terrulli and Teschner, Terrulli’s mother, aunt and uncle also were staying at the home. The family was on a trip to Atlantic City when the house burned down.

Jacquelin Terruli, 65, who has been missing since a Sept. 12, 2019, fire at her Ocean Township home. (Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office/Wanamassa Fire Co.)

When they didn’t hear from Terrulli, the family feared that her body would be found in the charred ruins of the home. But a search turned up nothing.

Teschner was found the next day in Paterson, where he also was charged with assaulting cops and possessing heroin, the Asbury Park Press reported.

Another cousin said that if Teschner is involved in the fire and disappearance, the family wants to see him charged to make sure he stays behind bars.

"My cousin is a very caring, very loving, successful person," Willy James Cobianchi said. "He begged her and cried, 'Can I stay with you? I have nowhere to go.' It was a mistake and ultimately it may have cost her life."

Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email sergio.bichao@townsquaremedia.com.

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